- Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, Center of Vaccine Development Director, University of Maryland School of Medicine
- Dr. Wilbur Chen, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, Associate Professor, Center of Vaccine Development & Global Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine
On Thursday, March 26, 2020, LEAD1 Association hosted a webinar for its member institutions discussing how athletics departments can ensure the safety and well-being of their student-athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists on the webinar included esteemed members from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Kathleen Neuzil (Ctr. for Vaccine Development Director) and Dr. Wilbur Chen (Associate Professor, Ctr. For Vaccine Development & Global Health).
The panel outlined various strategies to help mitigate the spread of the virus including aggressive cleaning of equipment and surfaces that could be infected, the importance of isolation (for known cases of COVID-19), quarantining (for people in known contact with cases of COVID-19) and social distancing (including staying separated at least six feet from others, handwashing/sanitizing and isolating when ill). To this end, the panel made the critical point that by failing to take necessary precautions, even one person (such as one player, coach, or administrator) could unwittingly spread the virus to hundreds of others.
In addition, the panel emphasized critical steps that athletics departments can take now before the return of student-athletes to campus such as cleaning high-touch surfaces (such as weights, door handles and locker rooms), placing large sanitizer dispensers in public places, converting access to facilities to facial recognition, spacing dining tables, staggering the timing of training and practicing, organizing an influenza vaccine campaign for the fall (e.g., vaccinating all student-athletes and associated staff), using virtual meeting technology and minimizing group sizes.
The panel also highlighted the history of the coronavirus as well as other known respiratory viruses and identified the effects of COVID-19 to those individuals at higher risk (people older than 60 or with preexisting chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart, lung, kidney and liver disease).
This discussion followed LEAD1’s other recently hosted virtual experiences for its members during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a knowledge-sharing conference call with the NCAA’s Dr. Brian Hainline as well as an NCAA business update to LEAD1 membership.